Colorado has filled seven vacancies in its future football schedule, including a rare regional matchup and the renewing of an old conference rivalry.
On Thursday, CU announced a 2025 home date with Wyoming, along with future home-and-home sets with SMU, North Texas and Oklahoma State.
Wyoming will visit CU on Sept. 20, 2025, filling a spot that previously had Missouri coming to Boulder. Missouri moved its visit to 2031. CU and Wyoming last played on Sept. 19, 2009, a 24-0 Buffs win in Boulder. CU leads that series, 24-2-1, but the teams have met just six times since 1947.
The Buffs also announced dates with SMU in Boulder (Aug. 31, 2030) and in Dallas (Sept. 6, 2031); as well as a set with North Texas in Boulder (Sept. 4, 2032) and in Denton, Texas (Sept. 3, 2033). CU has never met SMU in football and won its only matchup with North Texas, 55-21, in Boulder on Sept. 18, 2004.
“I’m excited about those and it allows us to get back to Texas, where it’s important that we have a presence,” athletic director Rick George said. “We’ve got games in Fort Worth, Houston, Denton and Dallas now, so bringing our teams there and having a number of student-athletes from Texas on our team, I think it makes a lot of sense.”
CU and Oklahoma State, who were Big Eight/Big 12 rivals from 1960-2010, will square off in 2036 and 2037. CU will visit Stillwater on Sept. 13, 2036, and OSU is slated to travel to Boulder on Sept. 12, 2037. CU leads the all-time series with OSU, 26-20-1.
Vaccine, testing plans
Earlier this year, the university announced that all students, faculty and staff would be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to in-person classes for the fall semester. There is a process to file for an exemption, however, for those who don’t want the vaccine.
George said CU athletics will “adhere to whatever policies that (campus) has in place,” for any student-athletes who don’t want the vaccine.
“I do know that a large percentage of our student-athletes have been vaccinated and I’m really happy about that,” he said.
As for COVID-19 testing, George said it has not been determined at the Pac-12 level how much testing will be required this fall.
“We’re working through that now with the conference,” he said. “We’ve had some discussions about what that will look like, but I think we all know that things change pretty rapidly, so we’ll be nimble like we were this past year.”
With the 2021 fiscal year ending on June 30, George said CU is still finalizing the budget, but the athletic department will finish with about a $17-18 million deficit. George had previously estimated that deficit to be around $20 million. CU will fund that deficit over the next “seven or eight years,” George said, through the Pac-12 distribution and a Pac-12 loan program.
Given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — no ticket revenue, a major reduction in Pac-12 distribution, etc. — George said, “I feel really good about how we finished fiscally.”
Looking ahead to this fall, CU has announced it will allow full capacity at Folsom Field and the CU Events Center. George said the football season ticket renewal rate — from those who had season tickets in 2019 — is at about 77%. CU was at 86% two years ago, and George said he likes where the Buffs sit at this point.
“I feel really good about where we are with that, and I think it’s going to continue to get better,” he said.
There are a number of facilities projects that CU hopes to complete in the future, but currently there are no immediate plans for those. Upgrading the west side of Folsom Field, the sound system in the stadium and flooring in different areas of Folsom are high on the list. George would also like to build an indoor tennis facility and a soccer/lacrosse stadium at some point.
“I think all of those things are on the horizon,” he said. “We’ll come up with a plan in probably the next six to nine months on what that will look like. We’ve got to think big if we’re going to do big things and we’re gonna think big because there’s a lot ahead of us. I’m hopeful that in the next five or six years we can accomplish a lot of those things to really make this department and this university elite in a lot of ways.”
Last year, due to COVID-19, CU’s head coaches all took pay cuts to help CU balance the budget. George said coaches will receive their full salaries this coming year. … George is pushing to have some concerts scheduled for May and June of 2022 to help boost the revenue for the 2022 fiscal year. … Asked if Ralphie VI will be ready to run when the Buffs open the football season on Sept. 3 against Northern Colorado, George laughed and said, “Well, I can’t talk about Ralphie too much. She’s a secret.”